VinFast, an electric carmaker from Vietnam owned by the country’s richest person, Pham Nhat Vuong, unveiled a tiny, ultra-affordable electric vehicle on Tuesday (Jan. 9) at CES 2024 in Las Vegas. And the company is preparing to take reservations in the U.S. this year.
The reveal, a two-door hatchback named VF3, measures just 125.6 inches long, 66.1 inches wide and 63.8 inches tall, making it shorter and narrower than the Chevrolet Bolt EV, one of the most compact and affordable EVs in the U.S. And the VF3 is even cheaper, reportedly priced below $20,000. That’s less than half of the average price of a new EV in the U.S. (Chevy Bolt starts at $26,500.)
VinFast has revealed few specs of the VF3 but said it’s aiming for a 125-mile driving range. Other features include a 10-inch screen for the infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The diminutive vehicle has two rear seats that can fold flat to create as much cargo space as a compact four-door hatchback.
VinFast went public on Nasdaq in August 2023 and immediately made a splash. Share price skyrocketed nearly 300 percent on its first day of trading, making the little-known company worth more than Ford and General Motors combined at one point. VinFast stock is down more than 80 percent since then as initial investor hype subsides, but the company still claims a market cap of $15 billion, in the same range as Rivian and Nissan.
Electric vehicles saw sharp price declines in 2023 but are still more expensive than their gas counterparts. The average sale price of a new EV last year was $50,683, according to Kelley Blue Book data. This makes low-priced EVs like the VF3 particularly attractive to prospective buyers, at least initially. The problem is that a lot of companies offering such cars have a limited track record in automobile manufacturing and few made it to the delivery stage.
VinFast may have a unique advantage since it’s already one of the largest automakers in Vietnam, producing electric SUVs, scooters and buses. The company currently sells an electric SUV called VF8 in the U.S., and a larger model called VF9 is expected to arrive this year. Last July, VinFast broke ground on a new factory in North Carolina, which is expected to have the capacity to produce 150,000 vehicles a year.
At this week’s CES, VinFast also revealed a concept electric pickup truck named the Wild. If it ends up entering production and coming to the U.S., the Wild could be a rival to Tesla’s Cybertruck, Rivian’s R1T and Ford’s F-150 Lightning.
VinFast was founded in 2017 as a subsidiary of Vingroup, a major Vietnamese conglomerate chaired by Vuong. Vuong, 55, is estimated to be worth $4.6 billion, according to Forbes. He controls 99 percent of VinFast through shares held by Vingroup and other business entities, according to the company’s securities registration filing with the SEC in June 2023.